General News of Thursday, 27 July 2017
Outspoken former Attorney General, Martin Amidu feels the Minority in Parliament’s reaction to the CID Monday dawn raid on the residence of former Power Minister, Dr. Kwabena Donkor as part of investigations into the controversial AMERI deal was a slap in the face of the values of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), of which it represents.
Mr. Amidu, also an NDC member, in reaction to the Minority’s comments on the raid, said he felt ashamed that legislators from his own political party had called the raid, which was backed by a search warrant, unjustified.
He expressed further reservations saying he felt strongly that the Minority’s actions were “against the founding values and principles of the NDC rooted in probity and accountability,” adding that the Minority were creating the impression former ministers were entitled to some insurance “against the commission or suspected commission of crimes for which they voted us out of office.”
“I feel ashamed that my own political party that is now recognized under the 1992 Constitution, as the official opposition in the current Parliament charged with making laws and being a watch dog for the citizens will call a search warrant issued by a lower court with constitutional and statutory powers to do so as an inadequate defence for searching a citizen of Ghana’s residence simply because he is a fellow Member of Parliament.”
Mr. Amidu also expressed contempt for what he called the double standards exhibited by the Minority.
“…I hate the hypocrisy, double standards and audacity of the Minority in Parliament to unlawfully and unconstitutionally impede the police in the performance of their duties contrary to their very oaths of office as Members of Parliament, simply because of their colleague, Hon. Dr. Kwabena Donkor, is now under suspicion of crime in relation to the stinking AMERI contracts.”
The Minority, in its condemnation of the raid on the residence of Dr. Donkor also alleged that the move was carefully engineered by the government to silence opposition critics.
The CID was searching for evidence implicating the former minister in financial loss to the State, as a result of his involvement in the AMERI deal.
The cost of the AMERI deal was $510m and received Parliamentary approval on March 20, 2015. However, it emerged that the country had been shortchanged by the company, according to the current government.
The reports said the government had paid in excess of $150m, but state officials of the Mahama government disagreed.
The Minority expressed reservations with the fact the warrant was based on the order of a lower court whilst contending that the integrity of citizen’s private communication was safeguarded per law.
The Minority also expressed displeasure with the fact Dr. Donkor was apparently unaware he was the subject of any investigation until he was shown the court order that he is a suspect in any investigation.
Aside from this, the Minority said the CID’s actions were impeding the work of a sitting member of Parliament, amounting to contempt of Parliament under article 122 of the Constitution.
Mr. Amidu’s had some responses to some of the concerns in his reaction, which came via an article on his website, rubbishing among others, concerns a lower court could not have adequately issued the warrant.
Find below a section of Mr. Amidu’s article. The full article can be viewed here
First, it is untrue to say that because the suspected offender is a Member of Parliament a lower court could not have adequately issued the warrant for the search of his residence.
Second, it is also untrue that because the suspected offender is a Member of Parliament, his residence could not be searched early in the morning because it cannot be said that the search was executed “while he is on his way to, attending at or returning from, any proceedings of Parliament.”
Third, the Minority knew that article 18 of the 1992 Constitution dealing with the protection of privacy of home and other property of their colleague Member of Parliament was not infringed by the police acting under the exception in article 18(2) in accordance with a warrant validly issued by a court of competent jurisdiction for the purpose.
Fourth, the Minority knew that in executing a search warrant the police may take possession of items they suspect to have been used in or to facilitate the commission of the offense, to aid in their investigations.
Fifth, the Minority could not have been ignorant of the fact that laptops, documents, pen drives, and other items of interest for the investigation can be taken by the police in as long as they make an inventory of the items and give the suspect a copy.
Sixth, the Minority will be strangers to the truth in their contention that a lawful search and seizure of items likely to be exhibited in an ongoing criminal investigation from a suspected criminal sleeping in his residence at dawn can constitute impeding the work of a sitting Member of Parliament and be tantamount to contempt under article 122 of the Constitution.
Seven, it is an exhibition of outright naivety and unpardonable ignorance unbefitting any Member of Parliament to demand of seasoned and experienced police criminal investigators to forewarn a suspected criminal before executing a search warrant on his residence.
And Eight, it is cowardly and unbecoming for Members of Parliament, whom we have elected to represent us, to intimidate and threaten not only law abiding citizens in their exercise of their right to freedom of expression, speech, conscience and thought; but even law enforcement agencies, the police in this case, lawfully executing the law with being charged before Parliament for contempt. Respect must be earned not coerced!